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Scorn for 'Googleberg’s' new EU internet role

The Local · 13 Dec 2011, 11:28

Published: 13 Dec 2011 11:28 GMT+01:00

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Guttenberg was named advisor to the EU’s internet commissioner Neelie Kroes on Monday, with the particular remit of the role of the internet in authoritarian regimes in the Arab world.

But many German commentators noted that during one of his previous incarnations as economics and technology minister in 2009, Guttenberg had come out in favour of website blocks for child porn, despite expert advisers saying they were an ineffective instrument against paedophiles.

Others feared that government-imposed website blocks would set an uncomfortable precedent for internet freedoms.

Andrea Nahles, general secretary of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), came up with the phrase that provided plenty of headlines in the German press when she described Monday’s appointment as “putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”

Guttenberg’s relationship with internet freedom was also tested earlier this year when revelations on the crowd-sourced online platform Guttenberg Wiki uncovered wholesale plagiarism in his doctoral thesis. The scandal stripped him of both his doctorate and his ministerial post.

"Just this year, I was personally exposed to the power of the internet," Guttenberg joked about the affair at a press conference in Brussels on Monday. "And I recognize and value its capacity to draw people in power to account."

But internet activists, some of whom would theoretically be cooperating with Guttenberg in his new job, were less amused. Human Rights Watch described Kroes' initiative to promote internet freedom as good, but was “astonished” at her choice of personnel.

Frank Rieger, spokesman for the hackers’ collective Chaos Computer Club, told the Welt newspaper, “We see no reason to meet with a deceitful braggart who can’t even admit that he lied and plagiarized and is now presenting himself as the saviour of the internet.”

The internet itself was bursting with ridicule for Guttenberg on Tuesday. One German Twitter user compared the appointment to making Playboy founder Hugh Hefner an equality commissioner.

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More drily, lawyer and IT specialist Christoph Kappes, noted on the Google + network, “He is a technology enthusiast with thorough knowledge of the manipulative technology that allows him to use weak points in the systems to his advantage.”

But maybe satirical German TV show “Extra 3” came up with the best joke. Next to a photoshopped picture of Guttenberg dressed as a member of the Pirate Party – the party whose central issue is internet freedom - the caption appeared, “Freedom for the internet! Copy and paste for all!”

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:51 December 13, 2011 by Wrench
Talking about this guy is a waste of print.
12:19 December 13, 2011 by freechoice
surely being a minister for a nation, he has contribute somewhat to the country for many years?
15:03 December 13, 2011 by zeddriver
Talk about beating a dead horse. He gave up his degree, resigned from his position and admitted that he screwed up. He sent letters of apology to the unquoted authors. I guess the Germans will only stop once he meets the same fate as Marie Antoinette. From everyones (over)reaction. One would think that this person had committed mass genocide.
15:29 December 13, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
So of all people, Guttenberg is to become a force for Internet freedom and digital civil rights and liberties? How stupid does he think Internet activists are... It seems to be an often conveniently forgotten fact these days (or so Mr. Guttenberg would hope) that he was in fact the guy who pulled Germany's Internet censorship bill out of his hat in 2009, which luckily has been axed and is now history. And Guttenberg even accused activists who were against the "stop sign pages" of being in favor of child pornography.

And now Mr. zu Guttenberg is supposed to fight for Internet freedom and against censorship... well, to quote a German saying, putting a task like that in the hands of somebody like him is like asking the frogs to drain the pond.
22:26 December 13, 2011 by Dizz
@ zeddriver, no i think people are just outraged that he got to whitewash his criminal record for a measly 20 grand thereby keeping his politicial ambitions unhampered, that he is cynically manipulating something normal people would be embarrassed about as a way to stay in the public eye like some starlet "leaking" her own sex video and that he is still getting positions in public service that are remunerated with taxpayer funds. Why should the people trust him? Let him retire from public service and go multiply his millions in the private sector and most people will probably leave him alone. And you know how local employers are supposed to prove that the foreigner they want to hire is better qualified for the job than anyone else they could find? Why not set a similar rule for public service positions. Want to bet there isn't someone out there who may be less flamboyant but is better qualified for the job of internet advisor to the EU?
22:36 December 13, 2011 by puisoh
Read 'Snakes in Suits .. when Psychopaths go to work!!' by Paul Babiak and Robert Hare or 'Without Conscience' by Robert Hare. Don't lose sleep over him but watch him if you are a psychology student.
23:07 December 13, 2011 by Navigator_B
The worst thing about his return is that we'll be seeing more of his irritating attention-seeking wannabe wife. She used to pop everywhere when she was a minister's wife, even in a war zone like in Afghanistan. She even presented a TV show appropriately called Crime Scene Internet.
03:51 December 14, 2011 by jmclewis
Politicians used to be men above the average citizen in Honor and were the best citizens. Now they feel entitled to ignore any moral, ethical or legal code without accountability or responsibility for their actions.
02:01 December 19, 2011 by MichaSeifert-Weiss
zeddriver, why is it that so many people who read about Germany still refer so to the holocaust as their most loved description of Germans? Don't you think it's a little stupid?

And do you really feel that a man who held public office but has gotten away almost without effort after abusing the education system, upon which Germany has so much riding, and who has apparently remorse only because he was caught is to be ignored?

All that said, the editor of this online newspaper has an English name and is not German, so perhaps it is not only Germans who feel the horse has something left in him yet.

And anyway, if we really were talking about beating a dying horse and we were to use Dostoyevski's equine dream in 'Crime and Punishment,' we would be more likely to say that those who abuse the systems for personal gain are the ones with the whips in their hands beating the horse.
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